Pat and I took a “mini-moon” to Key West last week. His sister was on there R&R and we met up with her, Pat’s mother and grandmother. We had a wonderful time and I have a lot to write about later. First, I wanted to share this story about our trip to the Hemingway House. If you have never been to the Keys and plan on going at some point I highly recommend going and visiting here. There is such a ambiance to this place that you can fully vision Ernest roaming around the gardens or writing his latest manuscript in the upstairs study.
Before I tell you the story I need to give you a little background. The picture below is the pool that was constructed at the Hemingway House between 1937-38. It was the first pool constructed in Key West. While this pool was being built Ernest was in Spain covering the Spanish Civil War as a correspondent. His second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, was overseeing the construction and when all was said and done the cost of the pool was $20,000. Now, Pat and I figured out what that amount would convert to today and the total was over $322,000.
When Ernest came home he was livid. He could not believe that Pauline had the audacity to spend his money so extravagantly. Standing outside near the newly poured patio he flipped Pauline a penny out of his pocket and said “You have spent all my money so you might as well take my last cent.” Pauline proceeded to pick up the penny and place it into the newly poured cement where it has remained ever since.
You would think the story stops there, but it doesn’t. Of course everything is hear say unless you were there, but from what I gathered Ernest and Pauline had a pretty tumultuous relationship. From the stories I heard they were always bickering about something.
There is a bar in Key West made famous with the help of Ernest named Sloppy Joe’s. Joe “Josie” Russell (owner) and Ernest became very close friends, and you can read more about it here. In 1937, Joe decided to relocate the bar to today’s current location on the corner of Greene and Duvall Street. (Side note : The reason Joe left his old location was due to the fact the builder owner raised his rent from $3 to $4. Joe got mad at this and left.)
When Ernest found out about the bar moving he asked Joe to let him know the final day because he wanted to take an item from the bar. The last day came and Ernest walked out of the bar with a urinal from the men’s restroom. He proceeded to the house and set the urinal just to the right of the newly built pool. Now, Ernest loved cats and to this day there are decedents of his 6 toed felines roaming around the estate. He decided that this urinal would be a fantastic watering trough for them.
Pauline was furious at him and tried in vain to “spruce” up the eye sore 15 feet from her pool. She had Spanish tile placed on the front and an olive jar from Cuba placed on top. Finally, she had enough. She pointed at the urinal and said, “I entertain people out on this patio and that monstrosity has to go.” Ernest looked at her then pointed at the $20,000 pool and said, “When you get rid of yours, I’ll get rid of mine.”
To this day the urinal and the pool have remained neighbors on the patio.